If you want to get straight to the details of the prints then please head over to Aso Print Project for Aso Shrine...otherwise read on.
Two devastating earthquakes hit the Kumamoto area in April 2016, the first on April 14 and a bigger shock two days later. As is normally the case, there were numerous smaller shocks in and around the big ones. We had already planned to visit Kumamoto and the Aso area and we were extremely concerned for the people of the area, and in particular Helen from Explore Kumamoto who had already been extremely helpful as we were planning our trip. Not really knowing what to do, we waited to hear from Helen, and a few days later she was back in touch with us to let us know she and her family were fine. Helen was also incredibly keen to reassure us that our visit would not be a disruption or put a strain on the people or infrastructure of an area recovering.
Reassured, we maintained our plans and visited the area about 6 months later. This was one of the best travel decisions we have made, Kumamoto is a wonderful city with some of the warmest and friendliest people we have met. Buoyed by this discovery when we arrived in the city, we were really excited for our two-day tour of the Aso area. Aso is one of the biggest volcanic caldera in the world, and is a truly stunning landscape. If you have seen the Studio Ghibli Castle in the Sky then you'd find some of the landscape very familiar, there is a road down the wall of the caldera known as Laputa Road - a quick image search will show you why. Sadly though, we were unable to visit the Laputa Road as it was closed due to earthquake damage. This was not the only damage we would see during our tour.
As we continued our tour, we visited the main town within the caldera, and saw first hand the devastating damage to Aso Shrine. Both the main gate and the main worship hall of the shrine collapsed in the 'quakes. The shrine is the focal point of the community and it was clear the damage was very keenly felt. However, the locals also have gratitude to the shrine; Helen told us many feel that the shrine somehow stopped the earthquake causing more significant damage in the remainder of the village. Indeed, just a few hundred yards away there is a clock shop and not one of the clocks fell from the shelves or walls during the first earthquake. A recent documentary on NHK World TV shows more of the damage caused by the Kumamoto earthquake, including at the Aso shrine. This is well worth a watch if you have a spare 50 minutes.
Both during our visit, and on our return, I kept asking myself what I could do to help. Helen had explained to us that the shrine would need to find at least part of the money needed to rebuild, and based on the damage it was very clear that this was not going to be cheap. During our tour Helen had been fascinated by my trusty Zero Image and by the general process of pinhole photography. When I got my scans from the ever wonderful Canadian Film Lab the answer to my earlier question was obvious. Conspiring with Helen, we agreed on four pinhole images that I would donate prints of to raise money for the shrine. Now, I am hoping that you will share this information with as many people as possible, and perhaps even consider making a donation for a print (or prints...OK, perhaps that is a little cheeky) yourself.
Each of the four pinhole images on this page are available; there will be a maximum of 15 copies of each and all will be signed and numbered on the reverse (if you'd like a print of the shot of the damaged shrine then please contact me directly). The prints are album sized; 320 x 320mm in size with the printed area being 300 x 300mm. More information, including a much more detailed discussion of the shrine, earthquake etc can be found on the dedicated Aso Print Project for Aso Shrine page on the Explore Kumamoto website. Thank you for reading this, and please do share with as many people as you can.